33+ Insightful Shark Finning Statistics

Shark finning, a cruel practice, sees fins cut off and sharks discarded alive. Despite bans, some countries still allow this wasteful act, impacting marine ecosystems.

Great White shark (Carcharodon carcharias) in the water.Pacific ocean near the coast of South Africa

Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful act of cutting shark fins and discarding the rest of its body back into the ocean. Though it is prohibited in many countries, there are some in which it is still legal.

The sharks are often still alive when discarded into the ocean. They sink to the bottom and suffocate since they lack the fins to swim. In other cases, they become prey to other ocean species.

Shark fishing enables finishing vessels to increase profitability as they will only keep the fins as the other meaty parts of the shark are bulky. Ideally, many countries require fishermen to bring the whole shark to port before cutting their fins.

Shark finning statistics not only give us a broader outlook on its effects on the marine ecosystem but also let us understand why the practice is popular and how we can end it.

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Top 10 Shark Finning Statistics

Here are the top statistics about shark finning that you should be aware of:

  • The global market value of shark fins is about $0.5 billion
  • Cost of shark fins is an average of $450 per pound
  • First shark sanctuary covers an area of 230000 square miles
  • Most expensive shark fins can cost up to $2200
  • Cost of shark fin soup is about $100
  • 100 million sharks die every year because of the trade.
  • China’s sinking taste for shark fins dropped prices by 47%
  • Weight of sharks killed annually is 1.73 million metric tons
  • Europe accounts for over 50% of all shark fin exports
  • Canada is the first country to declare shark finning illegal

Overall Shark Finning Statistics

How big is the shark finning industry? What species of shark are at risk? What is the number of sharks that are at risk annually? This section gets into detail as we examine shark finning statistics.

Estimated Market Share of Shark Finning (Yorku)

The global market value of shark finning trade is estimated to range between 400 – 500 million dollars annually. At the core of its operations is greed leading to more fishermen participating to get a piece of it even in countries where it is illegal.

Countries Participating in Shark Fin Trade (IFAW Report)

The international community has agreed to stop the shark fin trade. About 169 countries are legally bound to stop the practice, but up to date, 128 countries still do.

China’s Sinking Taste for Shark Fins (Al Jazeera News)

China has been the biggest market for shark fins, but the tide has been gradually changing. Since 2012, preliminary data shows demand has been dropping; because of less demand, the prices have dropped by over 47%.

Number of Sharks Getting Killed Per Annum (Green Peace)

Most of the major fishing countries are responsible for shark finning trade. It is estimated that up to nearly 100 million sharks are killed because of this business leading to a decline in sharks.

Asia and Shark Finning (IFAW-Report)

As a symbol of status, shark fins have been used for generations as a delicacy on most festive occasions. It is prepared as a soup dish to add texture while other ingredients provide the taste. Hong Kong has been responsible for about 50% of the global market share of shark fins.

Cost of Shark Fins (Shark Allies)

With many countries making the trade illegal, the prices of shark fins have been shooting up over recent years. It is estimated that a pound of shark fins can fetch an average of $450 per pound, a huge contrast to shark meat, which can sell between $1 and $2 per pound.

Shark Fin Soup Cost (Shark Allies)

As a symbol of prestige and its medicinal uses, shark fins are mainly used to make soup. A bowl of soup would range from $70 – $150. Around 95% of killed sharks account for the global fin trade.

First Country to Declare Shark Finning Illegal (The Guardian)

Canada is the first country to declare shark finning as an illegal trade since 1994. By 2009, Brantford state in the county started passing laws to ban the possession or consumption of shark fin byproducts. The other states followed suit with little to no opposition to the ban.

First Shark Sanctuary (Marine Bio)

Palau became the first country to establish a shark sanctuary to protect the endangered shark species. The sanctuary covers an area of 230000 square miles. This project was implemented in 2009 and is estimated to be the size of France.

Most Expensive Shark Fins in the Asian Market (Shark Stewards)

Not all products that are similar in the market are rated the same, which is also true in the case of shark fins. Customers seeking premium shark fins will have to pay up to $2200 per pound for dried shark fins.

Most Expensive Type of Shark Fins Globally (GHRI Research)

Since the practice of shark finning is banned in the United States of America, there has been a significant rise in shark fin prices. Some buyers regard the basking shark as a collector’s prize and would pay $10000 – $50000 for a fin.

Biggest Seizure of Illegal Shark Fin (Time Magazine)

Authorities on the lookout for illegal fishing infrastructure have been placed to end the illegal shark fin trade. Law enforcement seized a record-breaking 26 tons worth over $1 million. The cargo was smuggled and was intended to be sold into the Asian market.

Hong Kong Shark Finning Trade Drops (World Wildlife Fund)

With measures in place to curb the sale of shark fins, the trade in one of its biggest markets has dwindled over time. Imports for shark fins have dropped by 70% in Hong Kong.

Europe and Shark Finning (Cites Sharks)

Countries from the European Union are the major suppliers of shark fins. Though most of these countries have laws against the practice, they still engage in the business, particularly pain fueling the species into near extinction.

When Did Shark Finning Become Popular (Eat Blue)

Though shark soup was a delicacy associated with aristocrats during the Ming Dynasty, its popularity increased centuries later. 1997 was the year that saw an increase in shark fin demand because of China’s economic growth.

The popularity of Shark Fin Soup in Hong Kong (South China Morning Post)

Though over 145 countries engage in the shark fin trade, it is more popular in Hong Kong. A survey shows that over 80% of residents of Hong Kong have consumed the soup.

Sustainable Shark Fin Trade (Marine Stewardship Council)

Though the industry is considered illegal, some companies follow the law. About 25%of the international trade of shark fins is sustainable, with the other 75% threatening species into extinction.

The Decrease in Shark Population (One Green Planet)

Since the shark finning trade gained popularity in the late 90s, the shark population has decreased. It is estimated that the shark population has decreased by 60 – 70%

The Importance of Sharks (Oceana)

Keeping sharks alive is more important than fishing them for their fins. The tourism value of one shark is reported to have $ 2 million to a coastal community over its lifetime.

What Shark Species Are endangered? (Humane Society International)

There are hundreds of shark species in the ocean. 181 species are listed as vulnerable by the international union for the Conservation of Nature. The two popular shark species endangered for their fins include Great Hammerhead and Scalloped Hammerhead.

China Ban on Shark Fin Soup (New York Times)

In July 2012, China called for a ban on serving shark fin soup in official state functions. The move shows their efforts to curb the consumption of one of the nation’s prestigious delicacies. Air China joined 35 companies that banned shipping of the product.

Shark Fin Markets (Shark Stewards)

Blue sharks have dominated the fin market, with their fins accounting for over 40% of the trade. The landing of blue shark fins has tripled since 2000. Though they are not an easy catch, blue sharks are no match to modern fishing technologies.

Weight of Sharks Killed Annually for Fins (Science Direct)

With nearly 100 million sharks being killed each year. About 73 million are for the sole purpose of harvesting their fins. This accounts for 1.73 million metric tons of waste shark meat.

Health Effects of Shark Fins (Florida International University News)

Though shark fins are considered nutritious, a study has revealed they contain a lethal mercury level. The legal limit of mercury consumption is 0.5 parts per million, and some shark fins have over 20X the legal mercury limit.

Why You Should Avoid Shark Fins (Shark Sider)

An average person consumes just one shark fin, similar to consuming 50 steak meals in one sitting. And we know that overconsumption of the meal leads to risks of getting serious diseases.

The Dangerous Sharks (AZ Animals)

Sharks are Apex predators, and encountering them might leave a victim in a fatal state. Though great white sharks are considered the most aggressive because there are 333 recorded attacks on humans, any shark fin meal from a 40-inch shark is dangerous.

Support for Ban of Shark Finning in China (Wild Aid)

A survey was conducted by WildAid in China, as they are the largest consumer of shark fins. 89% of the respondents supported the ban on shark finning practice. The sample group selected was about 28000 respondents.

Singapore and Shark Finning (Frontiers)

Other than China, Singapore is the second largest importer of shark fins. The country has an average of 2352 reported imported tones every year. The majority of the fins are re-exported to other Asian markets. 

Singapore Shark Fin Consumer Survey (Cloudfront)

Because shark fins are expensive, it is not a delicacy that will be available to the common citizen. It reported that most shark fin soup consumers were men making up 57%, and were between 35 and 50 years old.

Shark Fin Restaurants in America (Business Insider)

Although there is a ban on shark fins in over 12 states in America, some still sell them. The Human Society states that there are over 55 restaurants selling shark fin soup because of legal technicalities.

Shark Finning and Costa Rica (InSight Crime)

In response to poor incomes, local fishermen in Costa Rica were forced into the trade. It is reported that over 95% of their catch is smuggled to Taiwan. The practice does not pay any attention to the size and age of the sharks, drastically affecting the shark population.

Shark Finning and Taiwan (Environmental Justice Foundation)

While it is legal to fish sharks in Taiwan, it is illegal to cut fins and dump bodies back into the ocean. The country passed a law to allow bodies and fins to be landed at the port. The regulatory body only allows fins to be 5% of the sharks they catch.

Shark Finning and California (Animal Welfare Institute)

California is the biggest consumer of shark fins in America. There are about 360 restaurants serving shark fin soup. The state also makes up 85% of shark fin trade in the country.

Wrap Up

Sharks have existed for the past 400 million years, but for the last 3 decades, we have wiped out up to 90% of them. Though there are efforts and laws against the practice, these shark fishing statistics show they will be extinct if we don’t put more effort.

Education on the dangers of sharks’ extinction can be a great place to start. Today, over 97% of humans do not know that sharks are going extinct, and less than 1% know there are more than 30 species. With real awareness, change can take place.  

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